TULSA — Most Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks re-opened for the 2018 recreation season, April 1 and as the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation, the Corps is working to reduce water-related fatalities by educating the public on water safety.
The Tulsa District, which manages 256 recreation areas at 37 lakes in Oklahoma, Kasas and Texas, encourages visitors to wear a properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device or life jacket when in or around the water.
“Wearing a properly-fitted, life jacket or PFD while swimming or boating is the single-most effective action you can take to prevent drowning while swimming or boating,” said Abby Jones, a natural resource recreation manager, and president of the Tulsa District Water Safety Professional Development Team.
Since 2012, 83 lives have been lost due to drowning at Tulsa District reservoirs or recreation areas. None of the 14 drowning victims in 2017 were wearing life jackets.
So far in 2018, five deaths by drowning have occurred in Tulsa District Reservoirs.
Who’s at Risk?
The National Operations Center for Water Safety, which has collected public recreation fatality data and analyzed trends for the USACE. The center found that since 1998, when the center began tracking drowning data, males have accounted for 88.4 percent of drowning victims nationally. Of those victims, 89.3 percent were not wearing a PFD.
The USACE National Water Safety Council developed the “Life jackets worn … Nobody mourns” national campaign in 2015 to encourage the wear of life jackets and PFDs while recreating in and around the water.
The Tulsa District, Water Safety PDT will continue to maintain visibility by setting up Water Safety booths at recreation-associated events throughout the year.
“When we speak to people about life jacket wear, the most effective way to get through to them is to let them know that people in their lives care about them and depend on them,” said Jones. “We tell them ‘if you won’t wear a lifejacket for your own sake, wear it for the sake of the people who care about you.”